Daycare lunch charge sparks debate

WINNIPEG – A Manitoba mom who supplied her children with a healthy lunch was left shaking her head after daycare staff decided they needed to supplement it – with Ritz crackers.

Kristen Bartkiw, a mother of three who lives in Rossburn, Man., 110 kilometres northwest of Brandon, sent her children Natalie and Logan to daycare with leftover roast beef, potatoes, carrots, an orange and milk.

Her children came home with a note informing her that she’d be charged $10 because her children didn’t have a grain in their lunch.

“Today your child’s lunch was supplemented with: Ritz Crackers,” the note says. “Meals that are provided to children (by either the center or parent) are required to have: 1 milk, 1 meat, 1 grain, and 2 fruits/vegetables … Today you were missing: Grain – 1. HAD: meat, potatoes, milk, carrots, orange.”

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“I thought potatoes would count,” said Bartkiw, who was actually on the daycare board when they created the policy that mandated fines for lunches that aren’t balanced.

The intention was to make sure children had healthy meals, and she agreed with the idea behind the policy.

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“You would get a kid that had nothing but a pizza pop every single day,” she said.

WATCH: Nutritious lunch supplemented with Ritz crackers and mom fined. Minna Rhee reports. 

What Bartkiw objects to is strict guidelines that don’t actually enforce healthy eating because there’s no distinction between healthy choices, such as whole grains, and junk food like processed-grain crackers.

“According to their guidelines, Ritz crackers are fine,” she said.

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Her frustration with the guidelines prompted her to send her story to the Weighty Matters food blog, which published a post about it on Monday. It rapidly went viral.

Bartkiw said she loves the daycare her children attend and it’s solved the balanced-meal conundrum by supplying hot meals to all of its children.

“It’s so difficult for parents to follow these guidelines,” she said.

Kristen Bartkiw received this note when she sent a homemade roast beef meal for her children’s lunches at daycare. Global News

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